The Shop:

Reliance Fly & Tackle is the areas oldest locally owned fly shop/country store. We are a small store located in Reliance Tn, on the Hiwassee River. If you are in the area chances are we have what you need. Flies, leaders, Tippet, Rods, spinning gear, picnic supplies, Deli, Gas, & Beer. We have several campsites and a bunkhouse for overnight lodging located on Childers Creek behind the store. On Most weekends we do offer smoked chicken and rib dinners.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Hiwassee and Tellico River updates...

Fishing Reports:
Hiwassee River

The Hiwassee is continuing to exceed our expectations this year. It just seems to get a little better every month. July had a few surprised for us with the TVA running the river at 8000cfs for a week or so then lowering it to a fluffy 5000cfs for a bit longer. The normal flow for the Hiwassee River is 2800cfs, so it’s fair to say we were a little apprehensive about the fishing with the water levels being up. The river did not let us down, with 5000cfs flowing high and clear we had some phenomenal days on the water. The River is now at a normal 2 generator flow and the river is on fire. Water temperature is running right at 61 degrees and the fish are happy.
My preference for fly selection lately has been leaning more towards the western style of hopper dropper type rigging. I am using size 8 and 10 hoppers and attractor patterns finished off with a fairly large nymph as well. Pheasant tails, princes, tellico’s, lightning bug, zug bugs, and perpetrators are all working well. Generally I tell people to fish what they have confidence in, but it never hurts to throw in a little variety every now and then.

Tellico/North River
I recently spent a couple of days up on the North River in the Tellico watershed as it was on a day when the main Tellico River itself was closed for stocking. The water level was still high from the recent rains and the water temperature was 60 degrees several miles up. We were able to take fish in a variety of ways with nymphs being more productive in the heavier water runs and pools. Dry fly fishing was our preference for the day so we spent more time floating dry flies over the glides and back eddies. The fish were more than cooperative as we were able to pick up around 20 or so while we were on the water. Elk hair caddis and small attractor patterns like stimulators and trudes worked well for the dry fly fishing. As far as nymph patterns went smaller pheasant tails, hairs ears, princes, & copper johns all produced fish.

Anglers should note that the main stem of the Tellico itself is still closed to fishing on Thursdays and Fridays for stocking. Anglers must also have a daily Tellico / Citico permit in addition to their regular fishing license and trout stamp.

Fishing Attractor Patterns

There are times when anglers find themselves on the water wanting to fish dry flies, but there is no hatch or any sign of life on top. There are some among us that will fish dry flies no matter what; these are the purist as they will fondly refer to themselves. Stubborn is more often descriptive term that will be used by their fishing partners. Why would someone want to fish dries when they can easily take fish with other tactics? Yes, we could easily throw out a Pheasant tail and stick some fish; wouldn’t you rather see the fish take on top water if you really had the choice? For me it’s the satisfaction of knowing that I made the fish rise. Watching the take, seeing it all happen right there in front of me.
Every fish will rise a little differently; it’s like seeing a little bit of their personality come out. Some rise fast and are hard chargers with no brakes at all. Others will have that slow, steady confident rise with no hurry; they just slowly come up and eat. Then there are the refusals. On some days well it’s just part of the game. There are two main kinds of refusals that I see on a regular basis. The fish rises and just stops right under they fly and goes into hover mode for a couple of seconds, then slowly swims back down. The second is a quick rise and a slash at the fly and turns off as quick as he came up. It looks like the fish wants to eat it, but something’s just not quite right.

So what do you then if you really want a shot at some fish on dries when nothing seems to happening on top? There are a several courses of action that can be taken here and all of us have probably tried them all at one point in time or another. Every angler has a go to favorite that they will fish when nothing seems to happening. This is a fly that they have confidence in and have had some success with in the past. This is usually the first plan of action that most of us will go with. For many anglers I would say that depending on the type of water they fish these flies can be narrowed down fairly quickly. On our regions small freestone streams an Elk Hair Caddis & Adams are probably the top two on the list for many. For some of our tail waters a blue wing olive or a midge pattern may be the fly of choice. It all depends on the type of water being fished and the individual angler, me I like big attractor patterns.
There are certain flies that are tied to match a hatch and then there are those that just look tasty to hungry trout. These attractor dry flies would fall into that second category. Often called prospecting flies, these fly patterns work in situations where you don't know what fly to try or when fish seem to just want to eat something buggy looking. Attractor’s patterns can fall into all types of fly construction, nymphs, streamers, wets, and dries. For me when I think of attractors I think of big bushy dry flies. These flies come in all shapes and sizes from a 16 to a size 8. The more common ones that most people are familiar with are the classic patterns like the H&L variants, irresistibles, humpy’s, stimulators, trudes, Madam X’s, & tarantulas. I am sure there are more out there as every year the fly tying manufactures are always trying to come up with the latest and greatest new patterns. In all honesty though even if you only carry a few of each of the patterns listed above then you will probably have your basis covered from the Smokies to the TVA tail waters.

I like to fish my attractor patterns a couple of ways. Usually if I am on a small stream like the Tellico, North, or Bald Rivers I will fish them as a single dry fly and do just fine. This is generally a smaller size around a 16 or a 14. When on a larger tail water like the Hiwassee or the Toccoa Rivers I have a preference for a bigger size like a 10 or an 8. When I am fishing the larger sizes I go for double duty and drop off the preferred nymph of the day. This way I can work a dry fly drift as well as doing a little light nymphing. As far as the dropper is concerned that’s all up to preference as well. A general rule of thumb seems to be around 15 inches or so. On some water I like to drop a nymph back around 2-3 ft. so it can get down just a little deeper in heavier water flows. Usually I find that I will take as many fish on the nymph as I do the dry and I fine with that. I know its not the purist way, but oh well I’m not fishing with bamboo rod or wearing a tweed jacket or hat.

Fishing the Isonychia Bicolor hatch on the Hiwassee River.

Summer is here and the majority of the mayfly hatches have come and gone, but on the Hiwassee River in Southeast Tennessee it’s the time of year for some serious dry fly fishing. The Isonychia hatch is probably the most anticipated hatch of the year for anglers that come to fish on the Hiwassee. Isonychia’s are part of the mayfly order Ephemeroptera, Family Isonychiidae, and Genus Isonychia. Depending on location anglers may here a few different names other than Isonychia, some of the more common names are slate drakes and mahogany duns.

The hatch is not usually heavy, but by all means it can be at times. The “Iso’s” will start showing up in mid to late June on the Hiwassee and will continue on through July and possibly later in some years. Once the fish key in on these big fly’s floating on the surface the game is on and the dry fly fishing is top shelf. The Isonychia bicolor does not happen on many rivers in the southeast and the Hiwassee is the only TVA tail water that is home a large population.
The hatch will usually be more of an afternoon to evening event and can sometimes peak just before dark. On the Hiwassee we usually see sporadic widespread hatches throughout the day with a higher concentration of bugs in the afternoon. Some anglers may not always notice the Isonychia's hatching and on some days they may not see any at all. Do not let this discourage you, once the trout know that the Iso’s are here they keep an eye out for these bugs. Think of the Isonychia like a big trout steak. Even if there is not an active hatch happening, it’s on the menu and they will eat them. Just remember, it’s all about the drift, presentation can make or break your day.

If you are mending poorly and letting your fly drag and swing around then your success will be limited. Don’t waste a good cast by not managing the drift. On the Hiwassee mending and drift management is important. The water is not glassy smooth, there are plenty of waves that will swamp your fly, back eddies that will pull on the line and put drag on the fly. If you are willing to work for the drift then you will have a better day. Besides, it’s fun to watch a plan come together. Especially when you put forth the effort and make it happen.

Bill Stranahan,